Dispatches from Dublin: Pretty Vacant Dublin

Contributor post by Emily Westbrooks of From China Village

Hello, Poppytalk readers! Today I get to share one of my favorite Dublin projects, Pretty Vacant Dublin. Started in 2007, Pretty Vacant is an initiative designed to repurpose vacant buildings (of which we have many, sadly) as temporary exhibition space. With ten exhibitions under their belt, all varying in topic, space and medium, founders Louise Marlborough and Philip Rowley took their latest exhibition to a new level.

Set in a hulking, bright shopping center on Dublin's northside, Pretty Vacant's Virtual Gallery is currently brightening a space that is between tenants. Pretty Vacant worked with Virtual Shopfronts to cover the windows of an empty shop with art from Irish artists. In fact, everything about the gallery is virtual - they made an online call for artists who were interested in showing their work, received the images by email, and Louise curated the show at her computer. The show runs until the end of July.

One of the most interesting things about Pretty Vacant is the way it capitalizes on Dublin's small town environment. Louise explained that the real estate sector is understandably a little uninterested in working with the project, so she relies on word of mouth to find spaces and landlords who are interested in a temporary loan of their space. As is common in Ireland, she said she leaves most meetings with a list of suggested contacts for potential properties.

The exhibitions aren't just about filling empty, unused spaces. They're also about responding to that empty space with the choice of artwork. One of the previous exhibitions was set in a former travel agent's office and involved a gallery of images and documentary from an artist's travels around the world.

Pretty Vacan't's Virtual Gallery will be in place until the end of July, and I'm sure by then they will be yet filling another empty space with artwork from Dublin's up and coming artists. Check their website before your next Dublin visit to see where you can find them next!

Jan Halvarson

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